"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. " -Helen Keller

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Doing BlogHer '11 In Comfort and Style

I've been looking forward to the BlogHer'11 since BlogHer10 and I've been planning a comfortable yet stylish wardrobe for this year. I've been searching my closet and have cool but stylish outfits picked out for the day time and a sweet little black dress picked out for the parties. I have my bling all picked out. All I needed were my shoes. Sadly, given that we have to cloth and provide shoes for 3 growing boys, my shoe collection has fallen on hard times. I bought a cute pair of flats to wear on Father's Day and hoped they would work for BlogHer too. I was quickly disabused of that notion. Less than three hours into our day, I started doing that weird shuffle walk that newly forming blisters cause you to do. These beautiful flats from Naturalizer, the Violette,

would solve all my problems. They are super cute and the smooth lining and cushioning insole ensure I'll keep my swagger all conference long.

It's not often a shoe whore aficionado gets a chance to work with a company like Naturalizer and this excites me even more than the chance to wear these shoes. It will be my chance to be a shoe superhero coming to the rescue of all the bloggers with sore feet...a shoe rescue if you will. Maybe I need a cape? Between my laptop, my smartphone, and my ability to talk to anybody and everybody, I will have no trouble finding the bloggers whose feet need pampering. Trading out pinched toes and raw spots for the blissful comfort of a Naturalizer will be my pleasure. Comfy, stylish shoes make me happy. BlogHer makes me happy. Everyone should be able to find my smiling face when they need a shoe rescue!

*This opportunity was presented to me by Naturalizer and the Brown Shoe Company, through MyBlogSpark, and that the post serves as my entry to win a sponsorship for my attendance at the 2011 BlogHer Conference.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kids Say The Darndest Things

My apologies to Bill Cosby and the people from ABC for ripping off their title but it's simply true. Kids do say the darndest things and kids are strange. Because they don't put the same limitations on themselves as adults do, they are much more willing to let their minds wander in ways we often don't. And, listening to little kids talk is simply fabulous. The combination of them just learning to express themselves plus just learning how to talk can create some wonderful ideas, funny pronunciations, and all around goodness. Here's a small collection of this wonderfulness from our house.

  • Quote of the day from Gabe: "what if cat's had little cat trampolines and they could jump way up in the air?"
  • According to Gabe, it's not Dracula. It's Draclea (pronounce with a long e). This goes along with ridiculous becoming ridicleeous and regular becoming regleear.
  • When Joey was little, he thought all fast food was called McDonald's. One day he asked if we could go to Burger King to get McDonald's.
  • Ever since Marty was little, the grocery store Food Lion has been referred to as the Lion Store.
  • When Vic was a young child, he lived in Puerto Rico and his first language was Spanish. In Spanish, luna means moon. Vic thought that if martians came from Mars that lunatics must come from the moon.
Do you have any funny pronunciations, weird names, or just humorous things you (or your kids) said when you were little? And, tell me what you think would happen if cat's had cat trampolines? Please share.

    Tuesday, June 28, 2011

    Tasty Tuesday: Mocha Spice Cake

    Mocha Spice Cake
    a Kristin Cruz original


    1 1/4 sticks butter
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    2 whole egg
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    4 cups all-purpose flour
    4 1/2 tsps baking powder
    2 tsp cinnamon
    1/4  tsp nutmeg
    1 tsp salt
    1 1/2 cups 2% milk
    4 1/2 tbsp baking cocoa
    1/4 cup espresso powder
    1/4 cup kahlua
    1/2 cup chocolate syrup

    1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2) Combine flour, baking powder, espresso powder, baking cocoa, and salt. Stir and set aside. I put these all in a gallon ziploc bag and let Gabe shake it up to mix it. Then I had sweep up the flour that flew through the kitchen because I forgot to say SHAKE ONLY...don't smush and tug and pull the bag.
    3) Cream 1 1/4 sticks butter with cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar. Add eggs and mix until combined. Add vanilla and kahlua and mix. Add flour mixture and milk (with the chocolate syrup mixed in) alternately until totally incorporated.
    4) Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and a 9 inch loaf pan. Pour in batter.
    5) Bake cake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes clean.

    Monday, June 27, 2011

    FU On The Lawn - a guest post from husband

    A long, long, time ago (about 36 years ago);  in a country far, far away (the former West Germany)' in a now closed down US Army base (Herzo Artillery Base)...

    The Army had a summer youth dependent work program.  The purpose of this was to have the kids tied up during the summer vacation, thus giving the base commander and the Provost Marshall (the Chief of Police in an Army base) a break.  During the summer of '75, I was hired by the post Engineers, doing basic maintenance on post.

    One week, my friend and I were assigned to mow the field next to the NCO/EM Club (the enlisted men's club). It so happened that this field was also the approach path for incoming helicopters (the brass). So what do you think happens when a person's balls are bigger than their brain?

    PS and I got ready to mow the field, and I asked him "What if I was to mow 'FUCK YOU' in 10 ft tall letters?" Remember the balls vs brains analogy? He had to dare me to do it. Of course, I spent the next hour or so mowing some beautiful 10 ft letters. The next day, either a Colonel or General flew into Herzo Base; and he was greeted with the mowed message. It was also a Friday.

    The word quickly spread thru the base, and some folks (the base Commander) wanted to see me on Monday morning. Of course, I denied any of it. But, being a conscientious employee, I would be more than happy to fix the problem. And, Edie Murphy thought that he was the original "Fuck You" man.


    Sunday, June 26, 2011

    You Gotta Serve Somebody or Serve Yourself

    You Gotta Serve Somebody or Serve Yourself? Beatles or Dylan? Dylan or Beatles?

    I'm a big Beatles fan. I love all their music and I even followed their solo careers (especially Lennon's). I admit, I'm not the sort of fan who can tell you which song is what track on which album but lemme say there were some memorable nights in college that had their very own Beatles soundtrack. Dylan was never a big favorite. I have to admit his voice grates on me. But, I've found one instance that Dylan truly outdoes Lennon. Heresy you say?!?! Hold on, I'll prove to you I'm not crazy.

    Shortly after Dylan became a Christian...hold on, don't run away if you aren't Christian. I promise that's not where I'm going with this. Shortly after Dylan became a Christian in 1979, he wrote a Grammy winning song called You Gotta Serve Somebody. It has 7 verses followed by the chorus and the basic gist of it was...

    You may be a state trooper, you might be a young Turk
    You may be the head of some big TV network
    You may be rich or poor, you may be blind or lame
    You may be living in another country under another name

    But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
    You’re gonna have to serve somebody
    Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
    But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

    Pssst...if you can't stand to listen to Dylan sing it, check out Judy Collin's cover of You Gotta Serve Somebody. I wish we could take her vocal track and back it with Dylan's music.

    Lennon's rather dismissive response was to turn around and write the song Serve Yourself which went like this...
    You say you found Jesus. Christ!
    He's the only one
    You say you've found Buddha
    Sittin' in the sun
    You say you found Mohammed
    Facin' to the East
    You say you found Krishna
    Dancin' in the street

    Well there's somethin' missing in this God Almighty stew
    And it's your mother (your mother, don't forget your mother, la)
    You got to serve yourself
    nobody gonna do for you
    You gotta serve yourself
    nobody gonna do for you
    Well you may believe in devils and you may believe in laws
    But if you don't go out and serve yourself, la, ain't no room service here

    Now, I'll admit that Dylan's lyrics were a lot more simplistic than Lennon's lyric. I'll also admit that I prefer Lennon's voice over Dylan's. But, I have a serious problem with the sentiment behind Lennon's song, Serve Yourself. And, honestly, it's not that he seems to dismiss the importance of belief in a higher power. Everyone is entitled to believe what they want. What bother's me is the lyrics of Serve Yourself seem to say put yourself before all others. This world is hard enough to live in without supporting each other and being there for each other. By serving others, by taking care of others, we take care of ourselves. So, in this case, while I'll listen to Lennon, I live by Dylan's words.

    Tell me about a song that speaks to you...whether it's through lyrics or music.

    Saturday, June 25, 2011

    Things I Believe In

    I believe that last night at 11:55 pm, a truly historic moment occurred. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law that legalized gay marriage. Sure, other states have approved gay marriage but the sheer influence of New York makes this an incredibly important day in the fight for equality.
    Thanks to It's ok to be Takei for the photo from their Facebook wall
    I believe this was a truly wonderful site...not just for the sheer beauty but for what it represented...
    Thanks to Think Progress for the photo on their Facebook wall
    I believe my dear thugette Kym had it right when she said "Yay, New York! Now work on lifting the surrogacy ban to make it a little easier for the future new husbands to build their families!"

    I believe that no matter what our infertility experience is, we need to band together and fight to decriminalize surrogacy in Arizona, Michigan, New York, Utah, Washington State, and Washington, DC. How dare the government try and tell us this is not a legitimate way to build a family.

    I believe my home state of North Carolina's nullification of state Sen. Julie Boseman's adoption of her partner Melissa Jarrell's son is shameful and cowardly. It sets a dangerous precedent.

    I believe that if insurance companies are going to cover birth control and erectile dysfunction drugs it is morally wrong to not offer infertility coverage.

    I believe in the freedom to choose...to choose your partner, to choose your religion, to chose your political affiliation, and, if necessary, to chose abortion. Yes, I am an infertility survivor. Yes, I have lost many, many pregnancies. But, I have experienced pre-eclampsia and I have friends who would have died if pregnancy termination was not legal.

    I believe in freedom of speech. For example, I find the Westboro Baptist Church morally reprehensible and I think they give Christians and organized religion a bad name. However, I believe that, under our Constitution, they have a right to say what they say and protest the way they do.

    I believe in State's rights and following our Constitution (which I do not believe is a living document...that's what the amendments are for).

    What do you believe it?

    Please keep this discussion civilized. Feel free to disagree but don't call names.

    A Fabulous Giveaway from uPrinting *Updated with WINNER

    *The winner of the uPrinting Brochure Giveaway is OnceAMother *

    Hey y'all! I am thrilled to be working with uPrinting, a fabulous online printing company again this month.
    This time uPrinting is giving away a 50 piece brochure printing to the winner. These fabulous brochures are fully customizable through the use of uPrinting's brochure templates. I mean seriously, how great is this. These brochures can be used to promote any organization you belong to or they could be used as a great addition to a holiday gift (how's that for thinking ahead) by printing family recipes or stories on it. The uses are literally endless.

    Since blogger rebelled and didn't post my scheduled posts this week (this was suppose to go up 3 days ago), this is going to be a quick and simple giveaway (my favorite kind since there is no wondering if you won). Entries start IMMEDIATELY and end at 10 pm east coast time on the 27th. Here are the giveaway specs...

    Giveaway Prize: 50 pcs Brochure printing for each winner
    • 8.5" x 11" 100 lb paper gloss
    • With Folding (Half Fold, Trifold/Letterfold, Z-Fold, Roll Fold, Accordion Fold)
    • outside and inside printing
    • 2 business day turnaround on your order
    Shipping: Free Shipping
    Eligibility: Limited to US Residents,18 yrs old or older.

    Entering this giveaway is simple but remember that EACH CHANCE REQUIRES A SEPARATE RESPONSE. What do you have to do to enter...
    1. REQUIRED: tell me what you would use the brochures for 1 entry
    2. Comment on any post from this week. Leave a comment with url or name of the post (yes, comments you made earlier this week count 1 entry for each post commented on
    3. Comment on the guest post my son wrote for 5 entries
    4. Tweet (or share on facebook) this giveaway and provide me the link to your tweet (tweet or facebook once a day for 5 entries) - Win 50 custom brochures from @dragondream , @uPrinting , and @Giveaway_blogs http://bit.ly/lYleP5 Entries close at 10 pm on 6/27 #giveaway

    * This giveaway is sponsored by UPrinting, an online printing company. I will receive the same prize as the winner.

    Toilet Wars...a guest post from my son

    Hello all, Martin here. First of all, I WAS NOT, repeat, WAS NOT the one who had the war with his toilet. Ok, we got that cleared up. Anyway, this happened while i was down at a church camp at the beach. The cabin the guys were staying had a toilet off each bedroom, and the one off one of the others campers rooms got clogged, but in an odd way. The... well... stuff went down, but the water wouldn't flush, so the guy's, whom I shall refer to as Bob form here on out, room this was off of took a plunger to it and went crazy. After a short while, Bob practically went insane, looking like he had gone berserk, saying "WHY, WONT, YOU, FLUSH?!", and falling to his knees and screaming "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" after every failed flush attempt. Of course the other three guy campers and our counselor, me included, were laughing our butts off while this happened. One of the things our counselor had brought to the camp was a little speaker/radio thing you could plug your Ipod or MP3 into, and listen to your music to through it. Our counselor plugged his MP3 in and played a hilariously appropriate song for Bob's situation. He started playing "Eye of the Tiger". We all, sans Bob, burst out laughing at this of course. I swear, I was laughing so hard I was crying. Then, our counselor put on a song he said described Bob's relationship with the toilet, Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance". After a while, Bob gave up, and got our counselor to come help who preceded to make the toilet flush almost immediately. I'll bet you all can guess the look Bob had on his face then. So anyway, right after our counselor got the toilet to flush, I came up with an accurate count for the Toilet Wars...Toilet: 10 Bob: 1. Actually, technically, Bob didn't even have a full point seeing as our counselor got it to flush. And yes,this all really happened.

    Friday, June 24, 2011

    Vic's Story...the wrap up...

    WHAT?!?!?!? I can hear that yell from the corners of the blogosphere. How can we be at the end of Vic's Story (click on the bold link to catch up...the starting posts are at the bottom of the page)? Well, y'all, where his story ends, ours begins and we are pretty much at that point. Once PBH, destroyed her life, the chaos in Vic's life became a dull roar rather that the full on storm it had previously been. PBH still tried to maintain some influence over Vic...or at least stay involved with Vic...but, he wasn't interested.

    Even though the crazy women had been eliminated from his life, it took a while longer for Vic to get over the mental damage they had inflicted on him. And, while I could intellectually understand that, there were moments it cause strife between us. Despite the fact that we had talked about getting a place together when my lease expired, he retreated at the last minute. Even though my head understood, I was definitely hurt by that. And, even after we did finally move in together, it took a while for him to be ready for marriage. I knew from the beginning that I was getting involved with someone who had been battered and bruised by love but knowing it and living it can be vastly different things. I am very glad I stuck with it because our life together has been amazing...never easy but amazing nonetheless.

    And, for those of you hooked on Vic's Story, don't worry. There are plenty of stories that can be told via the wayback machine and there are all the stories of our life together. I think I can keep you entertained for some time to come.

    Thursday, June 23, 2011

    Movie Night With The Munchkins

    Movie night with all three boys can sometimes be challenging. The age spread of my boys - 5, 10, and 14 - can make it difficult to find a movie that they all will enjoy. I can usually find a movie Joey and Gabe enjoy or a movie Joey and Marty enjoy but rarely one that all 3 enjoy equally.

    Earlier this week, we sat down to watch Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules together. I came into the movie with no direct exposure to either the books or the Wimpy Kid movies. I knew Marty had enjoyed the books when he was younger and I knew both of the older boys had enjoyed the first movie so I figured it was worth a shot.

    I have to say that we all thoroughly enjoyed the movie. There were numerous laugh out loud moments and even Gabe can name his favorite moment of the movie. And, for those of you concerned about how appropriate this movie is for the younger set, be assured it stays amazingly family friendly without losing the entertainment factor. Sure, there's a lot of the kids trying to pull things over on the parents and there's Hollywood's stereotypical clueless dad but it's basically all good, clean fun.

    Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules is a great kid to watch with the kids in your lives and I'm really glad we have it in our movie library.

    *20th Century Fox provided a dvd copy of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules in exchange for a written review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.

    My Boy Just Made Me Melt

    Gabe just came up to me with a paper he was writing letters and words on it. There were the lines that he has written Game Over on and there was a line of random letters at the top. Gabe said "You know what it says. It says You are everything. Everything I love is you." It's no freaking wonder that little boy gets away with stuff when he comes out with lines like that.

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Selling Out To "The Man"

    One of the things I've been struggling with as a blogger is how many reviews or giveaways are too many. As I've grown my blog and my brand and built this little community here, I've gotten more offers and more PR plugs. Some of them are total bullshit and the only reason I respond is to screw with the little PR minds responsible for them.But, I'm also getting a lot of offers that are potentially beneficial to me and even to y'all (when I get to do a giveaway). And this is where my bloggy angst is coming from. I didn't get into blogging to get free stuff for myself and others. I got into blogging to save my sanity when we were immersed in our infertility struggle. But, when I really look at it, I can acknowledge that I've become a pretty good writer and, if I accept these review opportunities and giveaways, I feel like my blogging time isn't so selfish and just about me. I feel like I'm actually contributing something to my family. Sooooooo, I'm going to ask something of y'all. If you ever feel like I'm focusing too much on the reviews and giveaways, please say something. I don't want to alienate any of my readers friends but I also don't want to miss out on getting cool shit for my family or sharing some of that cool shit with you. I'm going to rely on y'all to help me stay on an even keel.

    The Wedding Crasher and the Kentucky Bourbon Kid

    One thing I can say about my family is that we are not boring. Our holidays and family gatherings never fail to generate a story or two that will be told for at least a few years. Last Saturday's Father's Day celebration was no different.

    Since my family is spread out all across NC, we gathered in the center of the state. We all gathered at the hotel my parents were staying at and swam. It was so good seeing all the kids playing and laughing and splashing with each other. Gabe was loud enough every time a family member came into the pol area that I think he could have doubled as a disaster alert siren but, luckily for us, the other patrons seemed more amused by his voice reverberating through the room than disturbed by it. After we swam for a couple of hours, we planned to hit the hotel's nacho bar/happy hour to get some snacks into everyone because we had no doubt we were in for a long wait for a table at Kanki (damn their no reservations policy). The kids all loaded up on nachos and sodas from the soda fountain and a few of the adults had a glass of wine or a mixed drink with their nachos. We talked and noshed and generally had a good time. At some point, Gabe and Joey decided to go explore the waterfall and the cool staircase and Joey came back to report that their were tables with more food only one story up. Most of the kids (and, ok, I admit a few of the adults) decided to continue with the nachos but my dad and my youngest niece decided to go check out the food upstairs. A few minutes later my niece came down  and said it was a wedding reception so she didn't get anything. We expected my dad to be right behind her...silly us. When 5 minutes passed and he hadn't shown back up, we all started joking about my dad crashing the wedding. See, my dad can and will talk to anyone. People frequently tell him their life story and he is always willing to spill his in return (or sometimes first). We figured he started talking and the person assumed he belonged there. Shortly, he came down the stairs with a plate loaded with fruits and snacks and all kinds of delicious looking stuff. Some one and I don't remember who said "You know that was a wedding reception, right?" My dad just grinned, shrugged his shoulders as if to say so what, and held up the plate in a look what I have gesture. That's my dad...the wedding crasher.

    Well, with all the nachos the kids had downed, they were thirsty. I had the bright idea to see if the happy hour bar would make them Shirley Temples...that classic kid drink of Seven-Up and grenadine.. It's pink and bubbly and makes the kids feel like they are getting something special. The kids all slurped them down. My mom walked the kids over when they were ready for round 2 and she came back cracking up. When Gabe got over there, he saw an older kid getting a bubbly brown drink and, when it was time to order, he told the bartender he wanted a Shirley Temple but he wanted it brown. The bartender said it wouldn't be a problem, that a lot of the boys didn't want a pink drink so they would make it with coke and it was called a Roy Rogers. The whole time this exchange is going on, Gabe is studying the bottles on the shelves behind the bar. When he heard the bartender mention coke, he got this look on his face. This look has become well known in the Cruz and O'Donnell households. This look signals that Gabe is going to make a pronouncement of some sort...usually something he finds critically important to the situation at hand...and that pronouncement is just as likely to be totally outrageous as it is to be relevant. Gabe then said "Well, coke might be ok, but THAT is brown too" and he pointed right at the bottle of Kentucky bourbon. That's right folks. My 5 yr old was trying to talk the bartender out of an order of Kentucky bourbon because damn it, it's brown. From that moment forth, Gabe had officially earned the nickname of the Kentucky Bourbon Kid.

    Surely, that's enough excitement for any one family gathering. Surely things were calm and quiet from that moment on. I'd hate to disappoint but, in my family, things are never calm and quiet. We finished out Father's Day celebration with a wind and rain storm that knocked out the whole power grid for the Kanki restaurant we were going to eat at which meant a trip across town to the other Kanki. Thank God for the snack we had consumed because it was after 8:30 at night when we finally sat down for dinner. Our evening didn't wrap up until well after 10 pm and, despite all that, Gabe was still wide ass awake after the 25 minute ride home.

    Now that I've finished relaying the story of the Wedding Crasher and the Kentucky Bourbon Kid, I want to hear about some funny family story that happened to you. Come on and spill it!

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    My Dad and My Husband

    On Sunday, it was Father's Day. Since we celebrated Father's Day on Saturday, I figured I'd save my Father's Day post for later in the week. Considering the celebration was normal for my family crazy and definitely atypical, I figured why do anything else normally.

    In my dad's eyes, I'm his princess. He always sees the best in me and doesn't seem to believe I have that raving bitch inside me that occasionally fights to get out.

    My dad was there for me when I was little and broke my leg. He carried me the 2 1/2 miles out of the salt mines in Germany when my leg wouldn't hold me. He fought the doctor who wanted to cut my knee open and probably saved me a life time of problems. And, he was there to push and prod me through the physical therapy that made my knee work again. He created home versions of the physical therapy gadgets and made me work when I didn't want to.

    My dad was always there for me during middle school. He made me feel good about myself when the bullies little jack asses I went to school with made me feel lower than low. And, he stuck with me when I felt like algebra was winning and I got into screaming arguments with him about it. My dad managed to put up with the raving lunatic I turned into when I was studying algebra and actually taught me enough about it that I love it today.

    My dad knows me well enough that he realized a beautiful stuffed animal would give me something to hold onto when I was grieving over our lost babies and didn't feel like I could show it to anyone else.

    My dad has always treated my mother with decency, honor, and respect. He never hesitated to tell her and to tell each of us how much he loves us. And, he always, always taught us to believe that we can do whatever we set our minds to. He taught me to expect a true partnership from the man I love.

    My husband is my heart, my soul, my love. He is the only man I would want to go through life with and definitely the only one I want to raise children with. He is strong and works his ass of to take care of me and the kids. Vic is an incredible husband and an even better father.

    When I think about Vic as a dad, I remember right after Marty was born. Vic was the one who pushed Marty's bassinet from the operating room back to our room in labor and delivery. He sang to Marty the whole way.

    I remember Vic taking Marty out in the car to go watch the planes at the local airport or to drive through the construction zones because he had to see the mighty machines (that's what he called construction equipment).

    I also remember him taking Marty on little half day trips to wander through the mall or to see something cool in a store just because he knew Marty would love it and I would value the down time.

    And, I remember him catering to my every whim and craving while I was pregnant and I especially think about Vic and Marty driving 45 minutes one way because I had a craving for Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

    I think about him reining his panic in when we made the trip to the hospital the night Joey was born. And, when it became clear Joey was going to be born that night, he put up with my irrational demands to call out friend and have her pick up my camera because "Damn it, I can't do this without a camera here." After Joey was delivered, he went with him to the nursery even though his instinct was to stay with me until I cam out of anesthesia. He did it because he knew I would want one of us to be there with our baby.

    I think about him having to take care of our newborn and our 4 yr old when I ended up back in the hospital 8 days after delivering Joey. And, he did it by himself because we were still stuck in an itty-bitty apartment with no room for anyone else to stay (but that's a story for another time).

    I think about his listening to the same song and watching the same video over and over again because that was the song Joey loved and then I think about him reading the barely tolerated Teletubby books (in a perfect teletubby voice) because that would always make Joey laugh.

    I think about him holding me and assuring me that it wasn't my fault when I broke down and sobbed how sorry I was after we lost our 5th (or was it 6th) baby.

    I think about how happy he was when we finally made it through the pregnancy that brought us Gabe. I think about him once again sitting behind the blue surgical drape with me and not even wincing as I gripped his hand tighter and tighter until we finally heard Gabe's cry.

    I think about how he indulges Gabe's volcano obsession with lots of tv shows and dvds and unending readings of the latest volcano book.

    I watch Vic as he teaches our boys by example how to grow into fine, respectable, hardworking young men. Like my dad, he clearly shows the boys it's ok to express and show your love for people. He also shows them that being a provider sometimes means sacrificing for your family. Vic does a lot for this family both by working and by doing things around the house. He has helped me to teach the boys how to do laundry and how to cook and how to mow the lawn. Like I said earlier, Vic is a great husband and an even better father.

    Fathers like my dad and like Vic should be valued each and every day, not just on Father's Day. So, dad, I love you and am lucky that you are my dad. And Vic, I can't begin to tell you how much I love you and how much you mean to me. Thank you for being my husband and the father of my children.

    Happy Father's Day (either 2 days late or 363 day early)!

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    Help Me Win

    Hey y'all...this post is just going up to get me the extra 10 entries in the iPad2 giveaway from Cecily over at Uppercase Woman and the amazing people at Buy More Contacts. So, you don't have to read this post and you certainly don't have to go over to Cecily's blog and enter the contest because the farther away you stay from this, the more chance I have of winning.

    Sunday, June 19, 2011

    A Long Overdue Commitment

    Most days I have great follow through. Most days, if I say I'm going to make/do something for someone, it gets done rapidly. Every now and then, something slips off my radar and life gets in the way. Then, when I remember it, I am usually shamefully behind and past due on the thing (whatever it is). Well, I finally finished one of those shamefully behind projects and I want to show it off to y'all. I finished the tote bags for the previous winners of my Book Challenge drawing. Mrs. Gamgee of Hobbit-ish Thoughts and Ramblings was the 2009 winner and Rebecca (aka Idgie) formerly of A Long and Winding Road now titled The Road From There To Here is the 2010 winner. I have Mrs. Gamgee's address and will need Rebecca's so I can get the tote bags in the mail.
    I made a 3rd tote bag which was originally going to be mine but I decided it had my mom's name on it instead.
    There is two outside pockets, front and back, and one interior compartment. I hope everyone likes them and I promise (bwahahahahahaha) to really, really try to be more timely next time.


    Today (actually, yesterday since it's after midnight and Sunday now) was a crazy, fun, and weird Father's Day celebration...done up in true Cruz/O'Donnell family style. I think I have enough blogging material for a week between weird drink requests to part crashing to power outages to...

    Oh hell, you'll just have to wait because I'm too damned tired to write it up now.

    And, Happy Father's Day honey! I love you more than words can ever say.

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    Photo Friday Night Leftovers

    Yeah, it's mashup time in the Lair brought to you via Calliope's Photo Friday and Danifred's Friday Night Leftovers ...
    • The photo Friday theme is drink, specifically your favorite drink. I forgot to take a picture of my coffee so I got a picture of my iced tea instead.
    • In the course of 5 days, I have had 2 days that included 5 1/2 hours of driving. I am tired.
    • Don't let me forget to tell you about the Kure Beach Camp toilet wars. It's a funny story Marty came home from camp with.
    • This picture screams summer to me...
    • Gabe is going into kindergarten next fall. He already knows basic addition, a little subtraction, is reading a bit but will be a fluent reader by summer's end, can count in English and Spanish, knows all the basic shapes plus a few more like octagons and pentagons, and has grasped that making things small in pictures makes them far away (basic perspective ideas). I am beginning to worry he is going to be very bored.
    • I absolutely love the cross at Kure Memorial Lutheran Church. It is actually made of red stained glass but, when I took the picture, the red only showed up around the edges.
    • Gabe woke up me up when he started crying loudly at 5:30 am. He was so tired that he knew he had to go to the bathroom but wasn't waking up all the way. Mess was averted and he made it to the bathroom but, sadly this woke him up most of the way. It took over an hour to get him back to sleep and that has exacerbated my exhaustion (I love alliteration).
    • My mom's Rose of Sharon bush/tree has really exploded with blooms this year. They are simply gorgeous.
    • Points I've earned through e-Rewards this year have bought me two $25 gift cards to Game Stop, a subscription to PC World, a subscription to Reader's Digest, and,before the year is up, another Game Stop gift card.
    • I can't wait to do the pottery class with Joey but the start date has been delayed because they are still putting the finishing touches on the new Cary Arts Center.
    What's going on in your life?

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    May The Filth Be With You

    Helpful Hints from Evil Mom: Tip 5

    I love my boys dearly but they get things unbelievably dirty sometimes. Truly, you would not even believe the level of filth they wallow in at times. We had one of those messes to deal with on Sunday. I know most of you remember the crayon on the shirt incident. Well, that time, I had to resort to a more exotic combination of things to remove the filth. This time it was much simpler. On Sunday, the offending objects mired in filth were Gabe's socks...
    Before we left my parents' house on Sunday, Gabe helped my mom water the lawn and, in the process, created a mud hole that was just begging to be jumped in. The picture above shows what his socks looked like after the hole jumping had occurred. My initial thought was to throw them away...they were just that filthy. My second thought was rinse them and wash them with with a scoop of oxygen cleaner (like oxyclean or sun oxygen cleaner). Believe it or not, these are the same socks a few hours later...
    For really tough stains, spray the stain with a spray stain remover, then sprinkle the oxygen cleaner over it, and spray it again with the spray stain remover. I've managed to get out spaghetti sauce stains and stains from red clay this way. Just be sure you don't leave the clothing treated this way sitting for more than 12 hours or it could affect the color of the fabric.

    What's the filthiest you have seen something get and were you able to get it clean? Got any good cleaning tips and hints for us?

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    Tasty Tuesday: Strawberry Crumb Cake

    Hey y'all...feeding three semi-human male children with black holes where their stomachs should be hungry boys means cooking a lot and, since grocery prices have gone up so much, I'm making more and more from scratch. Not too long ago I saw some scrumptious looking Blueberry Crumb Cake over on Shelly's blog, Momfiles.com. Luckily, she had a link to the Blueberry Crumb Cake recipe (from The Pioneer Woman) which meant I could get baking when the urge hit. As I am wont to do, I tweaked the recipe a bit. The recipe on The Pioneer Woman says it is suitable for 9 x 13 pan but the picture with the recipe looked a little thin so I doubled the recipe and it made a 9 x 13 cake that was a decent thickness and 9 in. loaf pan too.

    Strawberry Crumb Cake


    1 stick butter
    2 Tbsp (additional) butter
    1½ cups sugar
    2 whole egg
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    4 cups all-purpose flour
    4½ tsps baking powder
    2  tsp cinnamon I added this
    ½ tsp nutmeg I added this
    1 tsp salt
    1½ cups whole 2% milk
    4 cups fresh strawberries cut into small chunks
    1½ sticks butter
    1 cups sugar
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1 cups flour
    ½ teaspoon salt

    1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2) Combine flour, baking powder, and a salt. Stir and set aside.
    3) Cream 1 stick plus 2 tablespoon butter with cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar. Add eggs and mix until combined. Add vanilla and mix. Add flour mixture and milk alternately until totally incorporated. Do not overbeat. Stir in strawberries until evenly distributed.
    4) Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and a 9 inch loaf pan. Pour in batter.
    5) In a separate bowl, combine topping ingredients and cut together using two knives or a pastry cutter. Sprinkle over the top of the cake.
    6) Bake cake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until golden brown. Sprinkle with sugar. Cut into squares and serve with softened butter. it doesn't need the extra fat or calories...it's amazing as is.

    *Notes...Use fresh fruit in this. Frozen fruit will still add an amazing flavor but will not stand up well to baking. All strike outs are things I omitted or changed. All other changes or additions are noted in the recipe.

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    Operation Summer has begun...

    A post in bullets because OMG am I ever tired.
    • We are going to go down to my parents' house the last week in July. Gabe is going to be part of one of my mom's swimming classes and Joey will be helping out with swimming. I will take Marty down to Wilmington mid-week to join his church youth group on their service trip. I am thrilled that he wants to take an active roll in the youth group this year.
    • I drove 5 1/2 hours yesterday. Marty's beach camp started yesterday so I drove from my parents' house to the beach (slightly over 2 hours), back to my parents' house (a little over 2 hours again), and after dinner we headed home (an hour and 15 minutes).
    • Woke up today with an wanna be migraine (not debilitating but has the potential to be ugly if I don't baby it)...am going to have to get off the 'puter soon because the screen refresh rate aggravates my migraines.
    • My friend Maven is celebrating 20 years of sobriety. HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to a most awesome woman!
    • My friend Monica is doing incredible work with Team Sizzle. They had a short film in the Cannes Film Festival and they are currently shooting their first feature film. Remember these names because they are going to take the movie industry by storm. I fully expect to hear her say "I'd like to thank the academy..." someday.
    • The final Harry Potter film premieres July 15th and OurKidsMom is hosting an awesome giveaway in honor of this. Go enter and you could win Harry Potter Ultimate Editions Year 5 & 6 on DVD.
    • For those who asked about how Vic handled our kids births after I wrote the last post about the keystone cops birth story, this is the scoop. Vic knew he had to be in the delivery room. Before we had kids I told him that I didn't care how he reacted that I expected him to be there...he helped make them, he could damned well be there when the arrived. He was magnificent both before and during the deliveries. He never once complained when I nearly broke his hand by squeezing it when I had contractions when in labor with Marty. He was incredible and held the puke bucket when labor made me sick. He even sat with me behind the surgical drape when I ended up needing a c-section. And, he was so sweet singing to Marty after he was born. Vic was equally great during the c-sections for each of the other boys. I didn't find out until recently that as soon as the boys were born and I was settled after delivery that he would find the nearest bathroom and puke his guts out. Vic just doesn't handle childbirth well but, for me, he did it.

    Saturday, June 11, 2011

    Vic's Story...a side trip in the wayback machine...

    Two things about this story...1) it does not have to be read in context with the rest of Vic's story. It just strikes me as very funny and I wanted to share the laughs. 2) For any of my friends in the ALI community, this story does deal with childbirth (admittedly in a slapstick sort of keystone cops manner) and, if you are feeling fragile, you might want to skip it...
    I was reading Lollipop Goldstein's post about the ginormous black snake yesterday and it reminded me of a story...

    Very few things scare my husband. He is the crazy type who actually considers running into a burning building as good, wholesome fun. Vic use to be scared of needles, snakes, and childbirth. Diabetes has cured him of his fear of needles but he is still, to this day, absolutely and completely terrified of snakes and childbirth. I have personally seen him swerve across a road to avoid the little snake...not because he wanted to save the snake but because it scared him that bad. He also almost shot himself in the foot one time because he looked down, saw the snake, and his brain screamed "Kill it" but forgot to notice his foot was only inches away.

    As amusing as that is, it's not half as funny as his EMT delivers a baby in an ambulance tale. Vic's fear of childbirth was legendary in the rescue squad. The man could handle blood, guts, and torn limbs but he couldn't even sit through the childbirth training film during EMT class. Well, a few years before I met him, Vic was on duty as an EMT at the Rescue Squad we met at years later. Vic and his partner were the last ambulance available in the county and a call came out for a women in labor needing transport to the hospital. Vic had to go. They arrived on the scene to find, ummmm, let's call her Roberta (but, yes, he still remembers her name after all these years), 9 months pregnant, having delivered multiple babies previously, fully in labor. Delivery seemed imminent. Since Vic was the more experienced EMT on scene, he had to be with the patient...a women fully in labor...and he was scared shitless. One of the things all EMTs have to do is call in to the hospital when we are en route with a patient. This is how it went...

    Unit 1532: Vic's voice sounding shaky XYZ Hospital, XYZ Hospital, we are en route to your facility with a 9 month pregnant patient fully in labor, contractions are 3 minutes apart. pause

    XYZ Hospital: noting shakiness/fear in the voice coming over the radio Unit 1532, is everything ok?

    Unit 1532: Vital signs are good but...what do I do now?

    an aside to note that the hospital KNEW Vic was fully trained, the patient KNEW he was fully trained

    XYZ Hospital: realizing exactly which EMT is in the back of the ambulance with the laboring patient...snicker...snicker...Well, Vic, you need to check for crowning.
    Unit 1532: audible gulp...baby is crowning...silence follows...
    XYZ Hospital: Well Vic, it looks like you are going to deliver a baby.

    Vic, my dear, darling Hispanic husband with swarthy olive skin goes white as a sheet...

    Vic: Jo (his partner), STEP ON IT.

    Sadly, while this sped up the ambulance, it increased the bumpiness of the ride. Every bump, every pothole, every railroad track made Roberta feel like the baby was coming that much faster.

    Roberta: The baby is coming.
    Vic: begging with the best of them...Roberta, please don't push. Please. It's only a little while longer. Please...
    Roberta: Almost laughing between contractions Vic, I've got to push. This baby is coming and it's coming now...

    Unit 1532: XYZ Hospital...she says she has to push...
    XYZ Hospital: Well Vic, then it's time for you to catch. Call us back if anything changes.

    about 15 minutes pass

    Unit 1532: XYZ Hospital, we are now en route to your facility with 2 patients. Baby girl was delivered at 11:32 am. pauses and then wails with rising panic What do I do now?
    XYZ Hospital: by this time, the nurse manning the radio knew Vic and his fear very well  Well Vic, you need to clamp and cut the cor...
    Unit 1532: interrupting Do I have to?
    XYZ Hospital: knowing the ambulance was only 5 minutes out...snickering...No Vic, we will have a doc from labor and delivery standing by at the ambulance entrance. Come on in.

    the ambulance arrives at the hospital and the labor and delivery doc is waiting on them...The l&d doc clamps and cuts the cord and thoroughly checks over mom and baby.

    L&D doc: Roberta, you have a beautiful, healthy baby girl and you seem to be doing fine. turns and looks at my white as a ghost husband who looks like he could keel over at any minute and says Vic, do you need something?

    How funny is that? Mom and baby are fine and the poor EMT almost needs a stretcher of his own.

    Saturday Spin: Turn 5

    Thanks to last week's last minute tweet plea, I have this weeks Saturday Spin ready for you bright and early. This Saturday's pick is brought to you by the wondermous Wishy of Wishing4One. She picked Book 3 (spanish artists), Disc 75 (Segundo Romance by Luis Miguel), Track 11 (Somos Novios)...

    Friday, June 10, 2011

    Photo Friday Night Leftovers

    Once again, it's a mashup. I wanted to do Calliope's Photo Friday and Danifred's Friday Night Leftovers and so I'm doing them both at once again This seems to be becoming a habit.
    • The Photo Friday theme is Sun and nothing says sun more than bright summer days...
    Gabe at Kids Together Playground
    I love how the bright sun sort of washes out the features.
    • Remember when Gabe told me I wasn't his mother anymore? Well, he's expanded his repertoire. Today, I had a houseful of boys. Counting my boys, there were 7 boys between the ages of 5 and 14. Gabe was pinging off the wall and he was so loud it was difficult for the older boys to watch their movie. After multiple requests and then warnings, I made him come in to the living room with me. He was pissed. First, he informed me I wasn't his mother anymore. I laughed and told him he was stuck with me. Then he told me he wasn't my son anymore and again I laughed at him and said "Sorry dude, it doesn't work that way either. You're stuck with me. The he said "Fine, then I'm not living with you anymore." I think he was kind of pissed when I told him he could move into the dog house out back. We went through all the options but this time, every time I said he was stuck with me, he shrieked at me "Stop saying that." When we finally hit the "Fine, then I'm not living with you anymore" stage, I added to my response and told him he could live in the dog house, drink their dirty water, and eat mud. This really pissed him off. When he started crying, I cuddled him and asked him if it was sometimes hard to be the little one. He, of course, said yes and, after a little cuddling, he calmed down. I learned the hard way a long time ago that I had to go this route with him if I were to ever get him to admit to the real issue.
    • The loose tension pulley (suppose to keep the belts in my van's engine tight) in my van finally caused my air conditioning belt to snap. We are right in the middle of a pay cycle. Luckily, our fabulous mechanics were willing to take the Manatee in, fix her, and wait until next Friday to get paid. They ROCK and the Manatee will be home and 100% fixed tomorrow am.
    • Marty and Gabe just spent the past 10 minutes madly chasing and tickling each other around the center of our house. I love seeing my boys play together.
    What's going on in your life?

    Going Green

    Mowing the lawn when it's more than 90 degrees and the humidity is high is a bitch. There is absolute nothing good and nothing enjoyable about it. And, coming from me, that is saying a lot because I actually enjoy mowing the lawn in the Spring time. When I came in from mowing the back lawn today, I started thinking (and those of you who know me know just how dangerous that can be). Surely there had to be a better way to maintain a nice lawn. Perhaps something that would not only be easier on me but better for the environment. And, then, not only did I hit on a way that could get home owners off easy but I found a way to convince the communities we live in to support it. We could call it...
    Going Green with Goats
    After all, most towns and cities don't allow livestock within their boundaries but, if we sold it as a green alternative, maybe, just maybe they would allow it. Goats would reduce air pollution because people wouldn't be running the nasty, dirty engines on lawn mowers. Goats would also reduce chemical pollutants because the natural fertilizer would eliminate the need for chemicals. And, we could sell them on the population being healthier because they could drink the milk their goats produced instead of having to drink the milk laced with the growth hormones and everything else fed to cows in modern day dairies.

    Of course, knowing how narrow-minded government officials tend to be, I have a plan in place for what to do if they turn down our Going Green with Goats initiative. We will turn to pygmy goats. I know y'all are probably thinking I've lost it by now. After all, if goats won't be approved what makes me think pygmy goats will be approved. Well, we are going to use them stealthily. If we rig them with a few judiciously place bolts and something that looks like an antenna/radio signal receiver we can tell the city officials that the herd of pygmy goats are really a herd of mechanized, automated lawn mowing machines.
    So who can I sign up to join in on my Going Green with Goats initiative?

    Thursday, June 09, 2011

    Summer is time to relax, isn't it?

    Wheeeeeeeee, I have our summer schedule  on the calendar and to say we're going to be busy is a bit of an understatement. To say I'm a little bit overwhelmed is also an understatement. This is what our summer looks like...
    • June 12-16 Beach Ball Advanced camp for Marty...this camp is part of the summer program offered through the Lutheran Church here in North Carolina. They are going to swim, take ocean kayak lessons, take surf lessons, and there will be evening bible studies.
    • June 18, June 25, July 9 Ceramics class for me and Joey...this is offered through the Town of Cary at the new Cary Community Arts Center. 
    • June 20- 23 BMX Bike camp for Joey...this is also offered through the Town of Cary Parks and Rec Department
    • July 5-8 Vacation Bible School for Gabe...at our church...the theme this year is Hometown Nazareth - where Jesus was a kid. They will be learning about what life was like back then.
    • July 11-15 Civil War Experience camp for Marty...this is also offered through the Town of Cary Parks and Rec Department and it will be the thrid summer Marty has participated in this camp. He loves it and can't wait for the field trip to the Bentonville Battle Ground.
    • July 18 - 21 Around The World In 4 Days cooking camp for Marty...this is also offered through the Town of Cary Parks and Rec Department. They meet about an hour before lunch time and learn to cook recipes from around the world and then eat their handywork.
    • July 23 Bees and Butterflies one day learning experience for Gabe and me...this is also offered through the Town of Cary Parks and Rec Department
    • somewhere in there we are also going to try to go to my parents for a few days and there will also be more trips to the pool than you can count...and, we can't forget Joey's Tae Kwon Do 2 to 3 times a week.
    • August 4-7 BlogHer in San Diego for me!...if I've survived the rest of the summer.
    Can you please explain to me what I've gotten myself into? Honestly though, I don't regret one bit of this schedule. I absolutely love how excited they are about all the upcoming activites and it's so much fun to hear them chatter on about all the things they've learned or done. They are only going to be my LITTLE boys for a short time longer. I'm going to enjoy it while I can. Oh yeah, and share your summer plans with us...inquiring minds want to know.

    Wednesday, June 08, 2011

    A Trip in the Wayback Machine...Slip 'n Slide Summer

    Today was HOT. It was a day for popsicles and running through sprinklers. It was a day for sitting in the shade and going down Slip 'n Slides. It was a day for summer fun. We had many great yards for Slip 'n Slides when I was growing up. In Hawaii, we had a nice gentle slope that let you slide with almost no effort. When we moved to North Carolina, we had a broad, almost perfectly flat front yard that let you take running, flying leaps to take off down the Slip 'n Slide. But, somehow, that wasn't enough for my sister and me.

    My sisters and I were always very creative. And, on this one occasion, my parents had gone out for the evening and left us with our favorite baby sitter. This was the baby sitter who had taught us how to slide down the driveway on my baby sister's old crib mattress. Can you guess why we adored her? But, this night, she was innocent of the chaos that ensued. Our beloved babysitter put my sister Keri and I in the bath tub and then went to put our baby sister, Becky, to bed. Well, like most little girls, we liked to play in the bath and, since it was still early in the evening, she let us stay in there and play for a while. Our bathroom in our house in Hawaii was long and narrow. The bathtub and closet were on one side and the vanity and toilet were on the other. In my childhood memories, it was a super long bathroom. In reality, it probably wasn't much longer than the bathroom we have in our house now. In our children's point of view, that bathroom floor stretched on forever and ever and looked like a perfect place to slide. Keri and I splashed water out of the tub and all over the floor and then slid up and down that floor. The water got deeper, the shrieks of fun got louder, and all was good in our world until our babysitter opened the door. In our enthusiasm for our indoor slip 'n slide, we forgot one little detail...that damned crack under the bathroom door. Every time we slipped and sloshed on that floor, we slipped and sloshed water under the door where the carpet conveniently wicked the water away. Well, as the carpet wicked the water away, we just splashed more water out of the tub and onto our indoor slip 'n slide. By the time our baby sitter got Becky into bed and came back to check on me and Keri, we had so much water on the floor and in the carpet that it took every single towel in the house to dry the floor...and, we lived in Hawaii so we had  TON of beach towels in the house. It goes without saying that my parents were not pleased with us. Luckily, the amusement factor outweighed the frustration/anger and, as long as we promised not to repeat our stunt, we didn't get in to too much trouble. Hehehe, we didn't repeat that stunt but we did plenty of other things. Our imaginations and sneakiness knew no bounds.

    Hump Day Spin Around

    When I hit up my twitter peeps for last Saturday's spin, I got multiple responses so I thought I'd bring you a mid-week musical interlude. The track selected by the lovely Katie of The Happy Hours is from Book 2 (country music), Disc 67 (Trisha Yearwood's self titled disc), Track 8 (The Whisper of Your Heart). I couldn't find a video but you can listen to the song at the link immediately below. The music doesn't start automatically. You will have to hit play.
    Daddy told me when I was young
    He said it's a long road you've begun
    Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's hard
    But as you walk the road remember who you are

    You've gotta roll with the punches
    You've gotta aim to hit the mark
    You've gotta follow your hunches
    And try to finish what you start
    And when you come to the crossroads
    And you're deciding in the dark
    You've gotta listen to the whisper of your heart

    He said make it a practice to be true
    'Cause when push comes down to shove it's up to you
    To keep believing in your dreams
    And to sing your song if you've got a song to sing

    You've gotta roll with the punches
    You've gotta aim to hit the mark
    You've gotta follow your hunches
    And try to finish what you start
    And when you come to the crossroads
    And you're deciding in the dark
    You've gotta listen to the whisper of your heart

    The years have come, the years have gone
    Yes and I have learned some lessons on my own
    The winds of fortune are sure to change
    But the wisdom in these words will stay the same

    You've gotta roll with the punches
    You've gotta aim to hit the mark
    You've gotta follow your hunches
    And try to finish what you start
    And when you come to the crossroads
    And you're deciding in the dark
    You've gotta listen to the whisper of your heart

    Tuesday, June 07, 2011

    The Books of Summer

    Hey y'all, I just read another book you need to add to your summer reading list. I just finished reading After The Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn and loved it. While this book is very different from Ms. Vaughn's well-known Kitty Norville series, After The Golden Age will appeal to readers who like strong heroines.

    After The Golden Age tells the story of Celia West, the average human daughter of two major superheroes, and the chaos that ensues after the police of Commerce City arrest one of the city's big bad super villains. How can Celia the accountant live up to her family name? Whose really behind the current Commerce City crime wave? Does the girl get the guy of her dreams? And, who ultimately saves the day? You'll get all those questions and more answered when you read After The Golden Age. Ms. Vaughn manages to take all the major elements we expect in a super hero tale - a mysterious origin, a shadowy past, the larger than life villain, and the unexpected foe - mixes in a few truly unexpected twists and creates a thoroughly engrossing super hero tale that will have you reading late into the night. I sincerely hope this isn't the last we see of the superheroes of Commerce City.
    Now, I know many of you read as much as I do and would LOVE a chance to have a more back-friendly way of carrying around all these books I'm telling you you should read. Well, Sarah from Smart Bitches and Jane from Dear Author are giving you a chance to win the eReader of your choice (options include Nook touch, Kobo Touch, or a Kindle 3G with special offers). These lovely ladies are offering up an eReader in honor of a rare occurrence...the passionate adoration of a book, Yours to Keep by Shannon Stacey, by BOTH of them. So, go check out SAVE THE CONTEMPORARY and find out how you can enter to win your very own eReader.

    *I received nothing for this book review. The local library supplied the book (le sigh, now I have to buy my own copy) and I read it in one night s I reviewed it.

    Monday, June 06, 2011

    My sons rock!

    Welcome to Perfect Moment Monday sponsored by Lori over at Write Mind Open Heart. Lori says that "Perfect Moment Monday is more about noticing a perfect moment than about creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between."

    Lori is currently taking a break from hosting Perfect Moment Monday but I felt the need to recognize a few perfect moments anyway.

    #1 Marty is about halfway through the confirmation process at our church. At the end of the school year, the 8th grade confirmation class helps to set up, serve, and clean up at the banquet for the 9th grade confirmands. This meant Marty had to dress in dress pants, a dress shirt, and a tie. The perfect moment came when he let me take his picture. You just have no idea how huge that is because Marty HATES having his picture taken.
    Of course, his agreeing to a nice picture might have had something to do with me proposing to follow up with this picture...

    #2 The second perfect moment came this afternoon. Gabe asked me yesterday when we could watch Mamma Mia again. We sat down today, cuddled on the couch and watched it today. I love having one of my kids who loves the music and thoroughly enjoys the movie with me.

    Take a moment to recognize a perfect moment in your life and let me know if you write about it.

    Sunday, June 05, 2011

    Vic's Story, part 6...

    Welcome back to Vic's story. Sorry there was such a long gap between part 5 and part 6 but life got in the way. It was hard to focus long enough to write anything semi-coherent. One note about the time frame here...when Vic moved into the house with the psycho bitch from hell (PBH for short) that was the start of his one year legal separation from his ex-wife, M. At the end of part 5, when we met, he was about 7 to 8 months into his legal separation. Yes, PBH had wreaked that much havoc in that short a time.

    How we met, Part 1Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5
    When we last left our intrepid hero, he had just met the love of his life...ME! With the help of a dear friend, we quickly went on our first date and there was no looking back. When Vic spent that first night with me, it was the first night in a long time that his gun wasn't at his bedside. And, as he spent more and more time at my place and less and less time around PBH , that gun and the bullet with his name on it faded into the background. Within a month, we were talking about the holidays and how we were going to spend them. But, with Vic's track record with women, he wasn't ready for anything serious even when it was staring him right in the face. All he could agree to was taking it one day at a time and I was more than willing to accept it. Hell, if he'd jumped right back into swearing his unending love, I would have questioned his sanity. You'd think that it would be time for a little peace and quiet in Vic's life but you couldn't have been further from the truth.

    See, despite the fact that PBH had gone back to Amy, she didn't want Vic to go. And, since PBH was so desperate to keep Vic in that house and paying half more than half the bills,she jumped to some conclusions that could have cost Vic his livelihood. See, PBH knew Vic was in charge of training the new wreck team members at the rescue squad and she also knew one of the young, hot female firefighters, Kay, from the town was a new rescue squad trainee. And, Kay also happened to work the same firefighting shift as Vic and was occasionally on his crew. PBH also knew there was a new woman in Vic's life but had no idea as to who it was. PBH put two and two together and came up with a totally wrong answer. PBH assumed Kay was the new woman in Vic's life. And, as Vic spent more and more time with me, PBH assumed he was spending it with Kay and she began to get desperate. PBH couldn't afford her house, her car, and all the other goodies Vic had financed without Vic and his salary supporting more than half the household. In an effort to keep the gravy train going, PBH decided to chase Kay away from Vic.

    Now y'all have to remember that PBH was a cop. Scary thought that...she was allowed to carry a gun. Both Vic and Kay had started their careers on the police side of the public safety officer equation. As the town got larger and the call volume grew, it no longer paid to have cops who were cross-trained as firefighters. When the departments fully split, Vic and Kay had both gone full time fire and PBH had remained a cop. Like many of the newly minted full time firefighters, Vic was still a reserve police officer meaning he maintained his training and certification and could be called on in emergencies and could pick up extra shifts here or there to earn extra money.

    One day, when Vic and Kay were both at work, PBH decided the time was right to try and scare Kay away from Vic. On this day, Vic was acting captain and was inside doing all the lovely paperwork that went along with that job. PBH showed up at the station Vic and Kay were working at and, when she pulled up and saw Kay out back and no one else in the immediate vicinity, PBH jumped out of her car, pulled her gun on Kay, and told her to "Stay the hell away from him. You can't have Vic." Well, luckily for Kay, a few of the other firefighters were in the bay (garage area) and overheard the confrontation. The appearance of others took the steam out of PBH's confrontation and she turned tail and ran. The first Vic heard about any of this was  when Kay and the others told him they needed to file a report.

    Once the report was filed, the shit hit the fan. PBH was a sworn police officer who had pulled a gun on another town employee on town property. While the event was investigated, PBH was placed on paid leave of absence. Everyone who had been at the fire station when the incident went down were called in to answer questions...and Vic was called in time and time again. See the whole reason Vic had opted to become a full time firefighter when the departments split instead of staying with the police department was because of who the police chief was. The same son of a bitch who refused to grant Vic time off when he was married to M and desperately needed it was still in charge when the departments were splitting. Vic and that man never saw eye to eye and, since Vic wasn't willing to brown nose and ass kiss his way up the ladder like that chief expected, his career was at a stand still in the police department. This same chief was still in charge when the PBH gun incident went down and he decided he didn't believe Vic when Vic said he was unaware of any of the chaos of the gun confrontation. The police chief pushed and pushed the issue. He even had Vic undergo a polygraph exam to try and prove Vic was lying to protect PBH and, if that had been proven, Vic could have lost his job as a firefighter. Luckily, he was never able to prove that untruth. Vic had his reputation for honesty and the polygraph results to support his story.

    In the end, PBH had destroyed her own life instead of saving her lifestyle. She confronted the wrong woman, confirmed Vic opinion that she was truly a psychotic bitch, and lost her job as a police officer. I'd like to say I rose above my baser instincts and felt some shred of sympathy as I watched her life crumble around her but I'd be lying.  The bitch got a small fraction of what she deserved for the chaos and destruction she left strewn around her.

    PBH and her toxic influence started to fade into the background but she didn't disappear from the story entirely. That wouldn't happen for some time to come...

    To Be Continued...

    Saturday, June 04, 2011

    Saturday Spin: Turn 4

    Today's selection was picked by Genevieve from Spermination Station. She picked Book 3 (spanish artists), Disc 20 (Nueva Era by Yuri), Track 11 (Agradecimientos...this translates as a formal thank you)

    Since this is a spoken track, here's what you'd get if there were only 10 tracks and therefore counting to 11 brought you back to track 1...Disc 20 (Nueva Era by Yuri), Track 11 (Yo Se)

    Friday, June 03, 2011

    Photo Friday Night Leftovers

    Yes y'all, it's a mashup. I wanted to do Calliope's Photo Friday and Danifred's Friday Night Leftovers and I'm running behind so I'm doing them both at once.
    • We pass this sign every time Joey goes to Tae Kwon Do. I love it.
    • Why do ice cream trucks(which by the way are no where to be found in cold weather) play Christmas carols? Yes, Christmas carols...Deck the Halls, Frosty, and others
    • I just spent the whole day working out our summer schedule...lots and lots or summer camps. Wow does it ever get busy when you have 3 kids involved in activities.
    • I'm beginning to think that my dogs need a bath in Nair. I am already sick of the clumps of hair I am finding everywhere. I think that if I collected the hair all season long, I could build another dog.
    • Today's Photo Friday theme is chair. These chairs are at the front of the original church home of the oldest African American congregation in NC. This Moravian congregation still worships together today and occasionally even worship in this building.

    Thursday, June 02, 2011

    Everyone's a Winner (maybe NSFW or little eyes)

    I promised all my crafty readers a little present and it's coming up. I think really hope my yarn loving readers will especially enjoy it.

    First off, I want to announce the winner of the EdenFantasys giveaway. The lucky winner is Dora of My Preconceived Notion. Check your email for details on redeeming your gift card.

    Do y'all remember when I showed you the little crocheted sperm I made from the pattern I found on Ravelry? Well, that pattern was my inspiration. Back when I was doing the steamy romance novel giveaway, I decided the book needed a special bookmark to go with it. And, it would have to be a really special bookmark to go with a book titled Big Spankable Asses (yes, it really is a romance...erotica without romance is BORING). I decided to make a sperm bookmark. It crochets up super quickly. Here's the pattern and the pictures...

    Spermity Sperm Bookmark
    Make 2 using worsted weight yarn

    Rnd 1: Magic ring, 6 sc in magic ring, join to first sc with sl st (6sts)
    Rnd 2: Ch 1, 2 sc in each st, join to first sc with sl st (12sts)
    Rnd 3: sc2tog 6 times, join to first st with sl st (6sts)

    Do NOT finish off.

    Ch11, turn and sc in 2nd ch from hook (10sts); the tighter you crochet, the more the tail twists. Use the yarn end to close up and finish off the head.

    For connecting cord (I used a thinner yarn for this)...leave a long tail of yarn on each end, chain 70, using darning needle, feed tail of long chain through the tip of the sperm tail, weave chain tail back into the chain, repeat at other end.
    © Kristin Cruz and Dragondreamer's Lair 2011

    Wednesday, June 01, 2011

    Taking Flight

    East Chatham St., Cary, NC

    Thank you everyone who listened to and put up with my rant yesterday. This mural embodies everything I hope happens for all of us.

    My love always, Kristin

    PS...for all you crafty types, I have a small present for you. Check back later tonight.